Kogaion Tribe is a Romanian “land art” (or earthworks) and decor crew (Bogdan, Andrei and Vlad are the core-team) who have already been on the Freqs location for the past month collecting and selecting materials from the forests and fields surrounding the festival site.
This is the second year they have participated in the Freqs of Nature. More about their history can be read on the Freqs website.
Nature, they recognise, is the ultimate artist and their muse; she is their art, their source, their teacher and their gallery. Kogaion Tribe harmoniously collaborate with nature creating powerful relationships between the space and the witness. While many artists essentially give life to something (such as a canvas) in order to connect with people, Kogaion Tribe use life itself as their medium to create. They express their spirituality through the mutability of the environment.
(Above: image from one of their projets at Freqs of Nature last year)
Andrei says: “Nature is always beautiful, it depends how you are looking at it.” Speaking to this crew, you can see a true passion for nature and craft. As I watched them work and discussed ideas with them, I observed their ability to notice special qualities in things that are either hidden to many people or easily dismissed. I feel that this ability comes from seeing beauty in everything; the contour of a hillside, a random patch of pebbles- even decay such as in the pine needles from a fallen tree. The material is collected and arranged into detailed dioramas influenced by the Chinese Gardens, or sacred geometerical structures and other forms derived from nature. Characterising nature itself, it is this process of scoping out the environment which is essential for their art to take form and grow; it is not a planned, linear process but more an organic sprawling with presence.
Bogdan (‘the moss master’) and the others were working on the pending chill-out area and collaborating with other carpenters and land artists like Leo (aka Hawaiikas who will be DJing on the Forest stage) where I caught up with them to explain their project and roots in land art:
“I was working in a festival 2 years ago doing decoration and during the last 2 or 3 days of production it became quite stressful with people talking on top of each other and ideas clashing. I walked away to chill out by a log I saw that was still standing up and wanted to make it into a bench because I felt it was nice place to smoke. The wood was too rotten to build with but I saw some moss and placed it on the log and I didn’t stop doing that for 48 hours. That became the first garden I made and it just progressed from there. After that we discovered a natural Chinese art called Penjing (example image) which we’re incorporating in our work. For example we found some dead roots from tress and will turn them upside down and cover them with moss so they look like bonsai trees. The bark of trees can be transformed into little caves and tunnels and so on.
The more we continue with this art the more we learn- every project has a new technique or a new idea and its own natural restrictions (here, one of the biggest challenges is the mosquitoes!). One thing will be completely different each time we do it due to the different material and surroundings. You must connect with what is going on in the environment, it doesn’t work in the same way as architecture. We try to shape everything geometrically and then nature comes and shapes everything- putting everything into an organised chaos.
On a flat terrain we can build geometric structures. Here in the chill-out area, we take advantage of natural curves and so we can easily build waterfalls or lakes in mossy plateaus. You also save material when you adapt the environment which additionally gives a natural feel rather than one with a sense of human imposition.
Over this lake we are building, we are planning a nazca-plain/crop circle installation/japanese garden by alternating golden sand, black sand, green moss, orange dust. We don’t use any paint or colour unless you find it in nature, if you see a purple flower and you can use it then we can have purple, otherwise we just make use of the earth tones. We want our landscaping to look like it has always been there without human intervention; no nails, no wire.. if we must use them, we hide them with earth and moss. It will look perfect- like it just grew here.
We want to transplant some ferns here but the earth on this site is very sandy so it doesn’t stick as well as earth. If we cover it in moss, it will absorb humidity but nothing really grows in the sand so we will have to walk around the location and find out what flowers can grow in it.
As we walk around the site, we may spot a nice area to sit, and we will build something there; whether it be a bench or a small piece of art.
In the future they wish to expand and to provide more than gardens, but also festival infrastructure; stages, bridges and music, all made their way. One of the other developments of the tribe between Bogdan and Andrei is their chill-out music which they will be performing at Freqs this year. Bogdan makes more organic music with bongos and Andrej works more with soundscapes; generally sounds that go well with the art with the aim to bring their interests in music and gardening into balance.